Business Week Magazine ranks the University of Southern California's (USC) IBEAR Program as one of the leading M. B. A. program in North America for international students. Its student composition is truly global in scope with 50% of its students from Asia, 30% from the Americas, and 20% from Europe. The typical IBEAR student is 28 years old with 3 to 4 years work experience in international business. For each of the past ten years, Action Learning Associates has worked with the IBEAR Program to build its community of high performing students into a "learning community". The process begins during the orientation phase and is continued in the second semester of the program.
Dr. Morgan McCall, Jr., the author of Lessons of Experience as well as High Flyers: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders, and Action Learning Associates work together in a course on Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Students are organized into "learning cells". Team problem solving tasks and high challenge course events serve to galvanize these teams, develop the essential climate of trust and support, and identify team and individual learning objectives. Students develop self awareness and intrapersonal awareness through feedback on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the KAI, as well as peer and individual feedback. During the semester long course, students are organized into action learning project teams where they are challenged to work effectively together while working on a paid consulting project for an international firm.
Leveraging diversity, working effectively in an unknown environment, testing their academic knowledge against a real world opportunity, and learning about project management are not academic theories but rather real world experiences and challenges to learn from through direct experience. The students' journals capture their leadership journey as students practice identifying the lessons from their own experience while charting their self development progress. For over fifteen years, student evaluations report Action Learning Associate module as one of the year's highlights.